HEATHEN IL-KHANS OF PERSIA 187 The Return of Marco Polo to Persia^ A.D. 1294.— Arghun had despatched an embassy to Khubilay to ask for the hand of a Princess of the Royal House, and in A.D. 1292 Marco Polo was entrusted with the perilous duty of escorting the lady Kokachin cc moult bele dame et avenant" from China to Persia. Khubilay, upon dis- missing the Venetian, gave him " two golden Tablets of Authority. He charged him also with messages to the King of France, the King of England, the King of Spain, and the other Kings of Christendom." The land route being rejected as too fatiguing, the intrepid Venetian sailed from China with a well-equipped squadron of thirteen ships and a large retinue ; but during the two years which the voyage occupied almost every one died, " so that only eight survived." Upon reaching Hormuz, in A.D. 1294, Marco heard of the death of Arghun-, and, having reported his arrival to Gaykhatu, was instructed to take the Princess to Ghazan Khan, who was at this time in Kuhistan. It is therefore probable that he followed the same route as he originally took from Hormuz to Tun, and from the camp of Ghazan to Tabriz he presumably followed the trunk route which skirts the Elburz. At the capital he was treated with great distinction ; and his epoch-making journey, or series of journeys, was brought to a happy conclusion in A.D. 1295 or the following year, when, after an absence of a quarter of a century, the way-weary Venetian reached his home.